PA-Gov Round-Up: Loans, Audits and Other Exciting Financial Matters

PA-Governor-Mansion2Last week, this race seemed focused on the future and the policies of the candidates. Yet this week quickly became bogged down in the past and the records of each candidate.

Wolf

The biggest action taken by Governor Corbett this week was the loaning of $700 million from the state treasury’s $1.5 billion short-term investment pool. The loan was necessary to keep the state on a sound fiscal footing and predictably caused an outcry from many Democrats, including the Wolf campaign.

“The Corbett Administration yesterday took out a payday loan to meet basic state spending needs,” Wolf campaign spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said.

“Pennsylvanians are suffering from Governor Corbett’s mismanagement and failed leadership,” he continued. “Under his administration, annual budgets have been filled with one-time gimmicks, flimsy projections, and a lack of real solutions, resulting in credit downgrades and a $2.7 billion deficit.”

“Now, Governor Corbett’s financial mess has forced Pennsylvania to rely on payday loans in order for the state to pay its bills,” Sheridan concluded.

FreshStartPA piled on by accusing Gov. Corbett of breaking his promise from his inaugural address to run a fiscally disciplined Administration.

“Tom Corbett promised a fiscally responsible administration, but his rhetoric never matched the reality. As a result, Pennsylvania is broke and is borrowing $1.5 billion just to pay the bills,” said Campaign for a Fresh Start Spokesman Mike Mikus. “Tom Corbett’s needs to explain why his policies require the commonwealth to borrow $1.5 billion just two months into the fiscal year. How long has he known that that money would need to be borrowed just to pay the bills? Why did he not see this coming when signed the budget just two months ago? If he did see the need to borrow money when he signed the budget, why did he hide it from the people of Pennsylvania?”

They even released a web video today reiterating their point:

Mikus also commented on the Department of Education’s declaration that it would not cooperate with an audit spurred by the Ron Tomalis episode.

“You would think that Tom Corbett would be jumping at the chance to prove Ron Tomalis earned his keep if Tomalis really wasn’t a ghost employee,” Mikus said. Unless he has something to hide, Tom Corbett will end the cover-up of the Ron Tomalis scandal and order the Department of Education to fully cooperate with this audit so that the people can learn whether or not Mr. Tomalis did any work to earn his $140,000, taxpayer-funded salary.”

“Tom Corbett and his Department of Education have misled the public for the past two months, and the department’s shocking declaration that it will block the Auditor General’s investigation just smells rotten,” Mikus concluded. “It is time for Governor Corbett to come clean and allow the auditors figure out how Ron Tomalis was able to earn $140,000 to do no work.”

Corbett

As you would expect, Governor Corbett felt the Wolf campaign’s comments about the $700 million loan were unnecessary and unfair.

“It should come as no surprise that Secretary Tom Wolf would quickly attack Governor Tom Corbett for using a maneuver first used in 2009 by Wolf’s mentor, Governor Ed Rendell to clean up Wolf’s mess,”  Corbett-Cawley Communications Director Chris Pack said. “Governor Rendell first had to use this procedure to compensate for revenue projections made by Secretary Tom Wolf that were so far off that they actually had to create an independent office to check Wolf’s math.”

“This is just another example of Secretary Tom Wolf’s ‘do as I say, not as I do’ hypocrisy that should come as no surprise given Wolf’s longstanding blind political ambition and obsession with calling himself Governor,” Pack concluded.

Pack’s statement links to a Philadelphia Magazine article, although it is difficult to find the sources for his assertions. At no point does the writer or the candidate give an indication that Wolf is obsessed with calling himself “Governor”. As for the claim that he has “longstanding” political ambitions, this seems to stem from the fact that Wolf intended to run for Governor in 2010 but dropped out in order to see his company through the Great Recession.

Finally, the Corbett camp hammered Wolf for a change he made in one of his campaign ads. They pointed out that Wolf is running the same commercial he ran back in February but with one noticeable difference.

“Even Secretary Tom Wolf now realizes that his lavish spending proposals outpace his proposed tax increases by billions,” Pack stated. “However, even when combining his ridiculous new revenue estimate for his energy tax proposal with his middle class income tax hike, he is still billions of dollars short of paying for his agenda. At this point, Secretary Tom Wolf is just making up numbers to fill his empty campaign rhetoric, and it’s clear that he has no real plan to lead our state. Tom Wolf is offering little more than false promises that will lead to a failed future for Pennsylvania.”

PA-6: Ryan Costello Challenges Manan Trivedi to “Friendly” Wager

the-lincRyan Costello, the Republican candidate in Pennsylvania’s 6th District, challenged his opponent, Democrat Manan Trivedi, to a friendly wager for this Sunday’s Philadelphia Eagles football game.

Costello wagered that if the Philadelphia Eagles lose on Sunday, he would bring a case of craft beer from Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing to Trivedi’s campaign office. On the flipside, if Washington loses, Trivedi would bring a case of DC Brau to Costellos campaign office.

The not-exactly-so friendly wager is inspired by one of Costello’s favorite attacks; that he lives in the Philly area, while Trivedi does not. Costello asserts that while he has lived in the Philadelphia area for his entire life, Trivedi owns a home in Washington D.C. and 95 percent of his income last year came from DC hospitals and health consulting firms.

The email from Costello to Trivedi reads,

Dear Manan:

Although we are entering the final few weeks of campaign season, the NFL football season is just getting underway. I thought it might be a refreshing break to make a friendly political wager on this weekend’s upcoming Eagles-Washington game.

As someone who has lived and worked in the Philadelphia area my entire life, I am a die-hard Eagles fan. I am so confident in an Eagles victory that if — by some stroke of bad luck — Washington beats Philadelphia, I will bring a case of Pennsylvania’s own Victory Beer — made a few miles from my home in Chester County– to your campaign office.

Conversely, I know that you own a home in the heart of Washington and your filings with the Clerk of the House of Representatives show you earned 95 percent of your income last year — and 100 percent this year — from DC hospitals and health consulting firms.  Heck, your main employer, the Washington Hospital Center, was the longtime “official hospital” of Washington’s NFL team and lists you on their website as a doctor of internal medicine.

So, if your Washington team loses, you would owe me a case of a craft beer from Washington, DC, such as DC Brau or Capitol City Brewing.

Cheers!  And may the best team (the Eagles) win!

E-A-G-L-E-S!  Eagles!

Sincerely,

Ryan Costello

It seems worth pointing out that the campaign never uses Washington’s team name, “Redskins” which has come under fire recently. Also, they technically play in Maryland but that’s neither here nor there.

In addition to the friendly wager, though, Costello also picked up the endorsement of former Eagle offensive tackle Jon Runyan, who played with the Eagles from 2002 to 2008. After playing for the Eagles, Runyan was elected to represent New Jersey’s 3rd District in Congress in 2010, a seat he will retire from after this Congressional session.

The race between Costello and Trivedi in the 6th District is for an open seat. Current Congressman Jim Gerlach (R) announced his retirement in early January. Trivedi previously ran on the Democratic ticket for the seat in 2010 and 2012, losing by a margin of nearly 15 percent both times.

The 6th District is located in eastern Pennsylvania and includes portions of Chester, Berks, Lebanon, and Montgomery Counties.

Philly City Council Candidate Ori Feibush Seeks to Build Profile (VIDEO)

There are still over 240 days until the primary election, but Ori Feibush, the Democratic candidate for Philadelphia City Council in the 2nd District is not wasting anytime getting started.

Feibush released an extensive profile video in which citizens of South Philly, specifically the Point Breeze neighborhood, spoke highly of him and why they believe he is the right man for City Council.

One man credits Feibush with helping fight plight in the neighborhood, saying, “The plight is quickly decreasing and a lot of is it due to Ori.”

Another woman commented that he was “about revitalizing the neighborhood, right then and there.”

According to his official website, Feibush worked with then-Councilwoman Verna to demolish several blighted houses in the neighborhood. Once complete, he personally fenced in vacant lots, and installed new lights and security cameras.

“This was the first community that I moved in that was a true community,” Feibush says. “It wasn’t a neighborhood. There are individuals here that care deeply about their neighbors, care deeply about the residents around them and for the first time I really felt welcome. I really felt that it was an opportunity to be a part of something.”

Philadelphia’s 2nd Council District seat is currently occupied by Kenyatta Johnson. The 2nd District covers parts of Center City, South and Southwest Philadelphia, as well as the Navy Yard, and the Point Breeze neighborhood.

PA-10: Marino Press Secretary Pleads Guilty in D.C. Gun Case

Ryan+Shucard

Ryan Shucard

Ryan Shucard, former press secretary to Congressman Marino, pled guilty in the D.C. Superior Court to possession of an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition.

The judge initially sentenced Shucard to 30 days in jail, but suspended the sentence on the condition that he successfully complete six months of unsupervised probation.

In July, Shucard carried the gun with him to the Cannon House Office Building where Marino has his office. Attempting to enter the government building, Capitol Police discovered the 9mm weapon and magazine during a routine security screening. Shucard was charged with the felony of carrying a pistol with a license. Upon learning of the incident, Marino’s offices immediately placed Shucard on unpaid leave.

Shucard had been house-sitting in Alexandria, Virginia, where he also lives, when he said that he had forgotten the weapon was in his bag when he went to work on July 18th. The gun, which had been given to Shucard by his grandfather, was lawfully possessed in Virginia.

In the District, however, handguns are not allowed on the street unless carried by law enforcement. The Capitol is federal property and held to the same gun standards as any other public place in Washington. The Capitol Police Board regulations only allow staffers to carry unloaded weapons into the building if they are acting as “agents” of House members or Senators.

Shucard isn’t the first staff member to break this rule. Philip Thompson, aide to former democratic senator Jim Webb, was arrested in 2007 for carrying a loaded gun into the Russell Senate Office Building. Thompson told authorities that the gun belonged to Webb and he was acting as agent on his behalf. Webb, however, denied this claim and Thompson was charged with carrying a pistol without a license. He was never convicted.

Shucard, who has been unemployed since the incident, told the judge that he had been doing “odd jobs” to support himself.

Bill Tighe, Marino’s chief of staff, said that Marino will make a decision about Shucard’s job by the end of the week.

Judge Lifts Order on “Inappropriate” Emails

200px-Seal_of_the_Attorney_General_of_Pennsylvania_svgThe order that prevented the release of sexually explicit emails in the Attorney General’s office has now been lifted.

According to Brad Bumsted and Melissa Daniels of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker has reversed his previous order.

Therefore, the decision of whether to release these emails now rests with Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The existence of these emails first came to light during Greg Moulton’s review of the handling of the Jerry Sandusky investigation.

The Tribune-Review and other media outlets have filed requests under the state’s Right-to-Know Law to gain access to these messages.

Suffice to say, the possibly explicit revelations of what government employees are doing and saying during work hours (and on work computers) could prove quite embarrassing to the entire Commonwealth.

PA-8: Cook Political Report Moves Race from “Likely Republican” to “Solid Republican”

mike-fitzpatrick2It’s been quite a strong week for Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.

Last Friday, Rothenberg Political Report called his seat “safe”. Now this Friday, the Cook Political Report is doing the same.

Last month, Cook changed PA-8’s rating from “Lean Republican” to “Likely Republican”. This month, they’re changing it from “Likely Republican” to “Solid Republican”.

“Democratic former Army Ranger Kevin Strouse was hailed early on by Democrats as one of the star recruits of the cycle, and Democrats would need to win seats like this Bucks County district to win back the House,” Cook’s David Wasserman wrote. “But Strouse only squeaked through his primary 51 percent to 49 percent, and at the end of June, he only had $269,000 on hand to Fitzpatrick’s $1.9 million.”

Wasserman is likely referring to a Washington Post profile on DCCC Chairman Steve Israel that prominently featured Strouse and the fact that Strouse was part of the DCCC’s inaugural group of “Jumpstart” candidates back in May 2013.

“Right now, the general election doesn’t even look close,” Wasserman continues. “Although the Pennsylvania governor’s race is looking great for Democrats, Fitzpatrick is up comfortably because he’s successfully distanced himself from both Gov. Tom Corbett and the Tea Party. Yesterday, Americans for Responsible Solutions (Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly’s group) announced a new 30-second ad praising Fitzpatrick’s ‘leadership on reducing gun violence.’”

As we reported yesterday, ARS not only launched a pro-Fitzpatrick commercial, they also released a poll that showed the Congressman with a substantial lead.

Both Cook and Rothenberg now classify every House race in PA as uncompetitive except for the contest in the open PA-6 seat between Republican nominee Ryan Costello and Democratic nominee Manan Trivedi.

9/19 Ups & Downs

The Philly Mayoral race fills up quickly, Gov. Corbett gets more bad news and Rep. Fitzpatrick caps off a great week. See who made this week’s list!

Up ArrowPhilly Democratic Mayoral Primary. While we’ve been spending all our time on the Governor’s race and all the other elections coming this November, there was an avalanche of activity in the 2015 Democratic primary for Philly mayor. While Terry Gillen entered the race earlier this month, two (and perhaps three) candidates indicated this week that they’ll also be running. First, ex-City Solicitor Ken Trujillo officially announced his candidacy with the customary press conference. That same day, former DA Lynne Abraham stated that she intends to run. Then, on Thursday former Court of Common Pleas judge Nelson Diaz hinted at his own candidacy. Suffice to say, the Democratic field will be crowded.

Down ArrowTom Corbett. Gov. Corbett received some bad news from yet another group of political analysts. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball changed their rating of the PA-Gov race from “Lean Democratic” to “Likely Democratic”. Managing Editor Kyle Kondik even called the Governor a “goner”. It was also announced this week that Auditor General Eugene DePasquale will investigate $48 million in “undisclosed funds” concerning Corbett’s HealthyPA plan. Perhaps the Gov’s attack ad on Wolf will show some effect in the future. For now, though, it was another tough week for the Governor.

Up Arrow1Mike Fitzpatrick. Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s great week actually started late last Friday when Rothenberg Political Report changed its characterization of the PA-8 race from “Republican Favored” to “Currently Safe” for the GOP. Then yesterday Americans for Responsible Solutions, Gabby Giffords’ PAC, unveiled a TV ad they’re airing in support of Fitzpatrick and released a poll showing the incumbent with a thirty point lead. While the poll is far from impartial it is the first to be released to the public and shows Fitzpatrick with a strong advantage.

Up Arrow1Down ArrowRyan Costello. This month so many campaigns have launched their first TV ads, that it might have been easy to miss Ryan Costello’s. Still the Republican nominee beat his opponent to the air with a biographical spot. It was also revealed this week that Costello will receive the active support of the NRA, perhaps the strongest and most controversial interest group in the country. Which explains our split decision, until it’s clear what effect the NRA’s involvement will have it’s too early to call the support a victory.

Up Arrow1Shaughnessy Naughton. 2014 has been a tough year for Naughton. After rallying against party favorite Kevin Strouse in the PA-8 Democratic primary, she fell just 817 votes short of victory. Then, she prepared to step into the State Senate race for the 10th district when party leaders urged her on, only to be denied when Democratic nominee Steve Cickay refused to drop out. Now, though, Naughton has created a new PAC that the chemist hopes will encourage more STEM professionals to seek office. It’s a great reminder that political careers never die, they just go into PACs to hibernate.

The tweet of the week goes to the Washington Post’s Colby Itkowitz in honor of Constitution Day.

9/19 Morning Buzz

PA-state-flag6Sabato rates the Gov race “Likely Democratic”, Gabby Giffords goes to bat for Mike Fitzpatrick and the NRA is behind Costello lock, stock and barrel. Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz!

PA-Gov: Sabato Moves Race From “Lean Democratic” to “Likely Democratic”: Sabato’s Crystal Ball calls the incumbent Governor Tom Corbett a “goner”.

PA-8: Gabby Giffords PAC Releases Pro-Fitzpatrick Ad and Poll (VIDEO): The group, which is dedicated to sensible gun control measures, is throwing its support behind Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick.

PA-6: NRA Backs Costello: In a potentially divisive move, the National Rifle Association has pledged both financial backing as well as on the ground support in the swing district.

Nelson Diaz Hints at Philly Mayoral Candidacy: The race for Mayor of Philadelphia is becoming increasingly crowded as Nelson Diaz releases what appears to be a video making his case to be the next Mayor of Philadelphia.

Statewide
Capitolwire: Loophole in 1988 agency shop law prompts lawsuit against PSEA
Capitolwire: IRRC rejects proposed lobbyist registration fee hike
State Impact PA: Marcellus shale conference moves from Philly to Pittsburgh
State Impact PA: Range Resources to pay $4M for violations at western Pa. impoundments

Philadelphia
The Inquirer: Thousands gather for state trooper’s funeral as manhunt continues
The Inquirer: Almost legal: City Council passes revised pot bill
The Inquirer: Penn community of many minds on being named top party school
The Inquirer: FBI adds Frein to Ten Most-Wanted list
Philadelphia Daily News: Council approves voter referendum on abolishing SRC
Newsworks: With Pa. law lacking LGBT protections, Center City attack can’t be prosecuted as hate crime
Newsworks: Founding principal at innovative Philly school leaves two weeks into year
Newsworks: Philly mental health court celebrates five years of putting offenders in treatment, not jail
Newsworks: Corbett ad says Pa. media agree with him
PhillyNow: Poverty drops in Philly, spikes in New Jersey

SEPA
Pottstown Mercury: Time running out for Pa. property tax reform
Bucks County Courier Times: Study ranks Pennsylvania’s highways 41st in the U.S.
Bucks County Courier Times: Past winter wreaking havoc on Montgomery County budget
Delco Daily Times: Archbishop Wood assistant coach linked to gay beating in Philly, resigns post
Delco Daily Times: House passes Good Samaritan bill to combat heroin overdoses
Delco Daily Times: Wolf visits Chester’s STEM High School, promises better state funding for education

Pittsburgh
KDKA: Wolf Visits Local School To Highlight Education Differences With Corbett
Early Returns: Education funding, lies and video tape
Tribune Review: Range Resources to pay $4.15M fine, close old gas drilling impoundments
Tribune Review: State lawmakers delay hearings on Corbett’s review of academic standards
Tribune Review:Grant to aid Western Pennsylvania children’s mental health treatment
Post-Gazette: Thousands honor slain Pennsylvania state trooper as hunt for killer continues
Post-Gazette: Assault charge dismissed against former Pittsburgh official
Post-Gazette: Penn State trustees plan to restructure the board’s composition
Post-Gazette: Auditor general, state education department at war over words
Post-Gazette: Woodland Hills plan would close 3 schools
Post-Gazette: State agrees to new settlements in Pittsburgh prison abuse cases

Southwest
Beaver Country Times: Human Services co-sponsors community health care symposium
Altoona Mirror: House OKs bill offering immunity
Altoona Mirror: Online sleuths aid probe into gay couple’s beating
Altoona Mirror: Blair County changes seven voting locations
Altoona Mirror: Review clears pension agency executive
Observer-Reporter: Chevron meets higher drilling standards
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat: Bill seeks fairer treatment for black lung victims
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat: Retrial ordered for Pennsylvania death row inmate

NEPA
The Times-Tribune: Trooper ambush suspect added to most wanted list
The Times-Tribune: Scranton pension funds will be broke in 3-5 years
The Times-Tribune: Frein now considered a federal fugitive
Newsitem: State should options to address opiate abuse
Pocono Record: Outraged Tweeters help find suspect in Philadelphia beating
Pocono Record: Students sue over alleged racial discrimination

South Central
Roxbury News: Harrisburg City Council to hold Treasurer interviews
Roxbury News: Pa Treasurer McCord, Auditor General DePasquale – General Fund Budget.
Carlisle Sentinel: Without union agreement, York may lose public schools
The Patriot News: Stem cell treatments for arthritic animals get increasing federal scrutiny
The Patriot News: The Capitol’s Treasury vault is a mix of buried history, forgotten treasures: Secrets of the Pa. Capitol
The Patriot News: Senate passes bill to earmark money for local park maintenance and operations
The Patriot News: Teachers target union restrictions on charitable giving in lawsuit
York Daily Record: PennDOT: Iron Stone Hill Road bridge closes following inspection
York Dispatch: West Jackson Street project near completion

Lehigh Valley
WFMZ: Forks dealing with maintenance building headaches
Express Times: Allentown school unions blast district, demand ‘respect, justice, fairness’
Morning Call: Slain trooper’s funeral held as manhunt continues
Reading Eagle: Berks election board moves two polling places
Reading Eagle: Poverty on decline in Reading

North by Northwest
Centre Daily Times: Proposal to change trustee structure brings sharp words from Rep. John Yudichak
Centre Daily Times: PSU governance committee endorses board reform plan
Williamsport Sun Gazette: County coalition: The need for affordable housing exists now

Opinion
Philadelphia Daily News: DN Editorial: Taking Leave of Our Census: Forget the rosy statistics: More are poor, the rest are hurting
Pottstown Mercury: EDITORIAL: Property tax bill needs more support in Pa. Legislature
Bucks County Courier Times: Pension disaster is no surprise
Delco Daily Times: Editorial: Hottest race in state heats up in Delco
The Patriot News: Reform the tax code to spur new energy industry expansion: David Williams
Lancaster Intelligencer/Era: Lacking merit: Alternative organization to Boy Scouts is founded in fear, prejudice
Express Times: Warren County freeholder candidates: What do you want to know from them?
The Times Leader: Letter to the Editor: Doh! Why mess with Pennsylvania’s system for acquiring doe licenses?
Citizens Voice: First responders should carry life-saving antidote
Tribune Review: Medical device tax an abject failure
Tribune Review: Higher-education trustees, step up & lead
Post-Gazette: Council appeases the few by refusing to post “In God We Trust”
Post-Gazette: Sen. Tom Coburn is right about the NFL and other issues

Blogs
Commonwealth Foundation: Safety Net Should be Reformed, not Renamed

PA-8: Gabby Giffords PAC Releases Pro-Fitzpatrick Ad and Poll (VIDEO)

Fitzpatrick GiffordsRep. Mike Fitzpatrick is getting some help from a former Congressional colleague.

The Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC (ARS PAC) is releasing a new ad in support of Fitzpatrick as well as a poll that shows him favored to win re-election.

ARS PAC is run by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and her husband NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. The organization was set up after Giffords was famously seriously wounded by an assassin in January 2011.

The group endorsed Fitzpatrick back in June and had previously indicated it would mobilize to support those candidates it backed.

Ad

“Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick isn’t afraid to lead,” the narrator of the commercial asserts. “He’s working with Democrats and Republicans to keep us safe from gun violence.”

The thirty-second spot praises Fitzpatrick for authoring a bill to keep guns out of the hands of the mental ill (H.R. 329) as well as co-sponsoring a bill an act to prevent stalkers and domestic abusers from purchasing firearms (H.R. 1565).

“We can get it right,” the narrator concludes. “It just takes a leader. Like Mike Fitzpatrick.”

“We need more bipartisan leaders like Mike Fitzpatrick in Congress – leaders who aren’t afraid to stand up to powerful special interests and to stand up for commonsense solutions to gun violence,” said Hayley Zachary, Executive Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. ”By reaching across the aisle to cosponsor legislation to close loopholes on gun sales, Congressman Fitzpatrick was not only showing some leadership, but reflecting the reasonable views of his constituents.”

ARS PAC also explained that this is a six-figure buy that will air in the Philadelphia TV market on broadcast and cable for at least the next two weeks.

Poll

In addition to the ad, the organization also conducted a poll of the race, the first publicly-released survey so far.

They found Fitzpatrick leading Democratic opponent Kevin Strouse by a 60%-30% margin. Among voters with knowledge of both candidates, however, the incumbent’s lead shrinks to 57%-32%. Just 40% of respondents were aware of both candidates, a number that is likely to increase as Strouse has just started airing his own campaign spot.

The group’s survey shows Fitzpatrick with high favorability (63% to 21%) and job approval (64% to 25%) ratings.

Among the other results found by the ARS PAC poll are:

  • 90% of PA-8 voters support universal background checks and 88% back the prevention of sales to domestic abusers
  • 57% believe gun laws should be made stronger compared to 34% who think they should be kept as they are now
  • Voters prefer a generic Republican over a generic Democrat on the congressional ballot by a three point, 43%-40%, margin
  • Tom Wolf and Mike Stack lead Tom Corbett and Bucks native Jim Cawley 46% to 43%

Now, there are several large caveats that should be taken into consideration when reading the results of this poll.

Any survey conducted by an interest group should receive increased scrutiny. For instance, the PAC didn’t release the wording of the questions that they asked respondents or the demographic crosstabs. Also, the narrow lead for Tom Wolf in a competitive congressional district contrasts with his large statewide advantage. Finally, it could be argued it is in the group’s interest to produce results that show the candidate they are supporting is doing well.

Not surprisingly, the Strouse campaign isn’t buying the poll results.

“Republican pollsters don’t exactly have a good track record over the past few cycles,” Strouse Campaign Manager Brendan McPhillips said. “American Viewpoint–the Republican firm used in this poll–is no different. One only needs to see that they have Corbett trailing Wolf by only 3 points here when he is down 25 points statewide as proof of how ludicrous this poll is. To say that this poll is a joke would be a generous statement.”

McPhillips went on to dispute Fitzpatrick’s record and laid out his own candidate’s views on gun control.

“It’s unfortunate that Americans for Responsible Solutions would be misled into supporting an empty suit who has played gun violence prevention advocates by casually attaching his name to a bill that he didn’t lift a finger to even get a committee hearing on, let alone a vote,” McPhillips continued.

“Kevin Strouse would be a strong advocate for comprehensive background checks and improving our mental health system to prevent tragedies like the ones that occurred in Arizona and Sandy Hook. Kevin also believes that leadership means more than offering empty words followed by no meaningful action, and it is shameful that this dysfunctional Republican Congress was unable to make progress on an issue supported by 90% of Americans.”

PA-6: NRA Backs Costello

CostelloRepublican nominee Ryan Costello is set to receive the support of the NRA in his battle against Democratic nominee Manan Trivedi.

In comments made to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Catherine Mortensen, a spokeswoman for the NRA’s lobbying arm, declared “Costello is a candidate we’re backing based on his solid support for our issues. He filled out the NRA questionnaire that we give to all candidates, and he’s a very strong candidate on the Second Amendment.”

With $10,000 donated directly to the first time challenger’s campaign this fall, the NRA has also expended $5,250 since June, seeking to get boots on the ground and on voter’s doorsteps. Under state campaign finance laws, the NRA may only commit such funds to indirectly support the candidate, without coordination from his campaign.

Noting that the contributions are only a small fraction of the $1 million in the campaign’s coffers, Costello spokesman Pete Peterson stated “Ryan is a proud supporter of the Second Amendment, and his record on public safety is second to none.”

Going further, the campaign denounced Trivedi as “an enemy of lawful gun owners.” Trivedi has indicated he would support bills to expand background checks and ban assault weapons.

Chris Borick, a political scientist at Muhlenberg College noted that bringing the NRA into the fold may be a double-edged sword. On one hand, for “a lot of core Republican voters, gun rights remain one of the most important issues on the table.” However, on the other hand, in the districts wealthier suburbs, “an NRA message might be more divisive.”

Both Costello and Trivedi are freshman seekers of the seat forthcomingly vacated by the retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach.

Update: Trivedi campaign spokesman Daren Berringer issued the following response:

“As a veteran who served during the Iraq War and as a doctor, Manan has seen both the front and back end devastation that high-powered military weapons can cause. It is always amazing how those who have never been on the front lines of war or an emergency room can be so fervent in their support of such extreme views when it comes to guns.”

Update 2: Pete Peterson, Costello campaign spokesman responded with his own statement:

“Ryan is endorsed by multiple police organizations, first responders and firemen for his efforts to keep Chester County safe. These are our neighbors, and they know Ryan. Meanwhile Trivedi is embraced by out-of-state radical groups like MoveOn and has repeatedly pledged to left-wing websites that he’ll never be a moderate Democrat in Congress. The only thing that’s extreme in this race are Trivedi’s out-of-touch positions.”

Update 3: Berringer released yet another response:

“Ryan Costello is again trying to distract voters from the topic at hand. He attended a gun rally weeks after the Sandy Hook massacre and has now been endorsed by a group that wants to allow domestic abusers, felons, and people on the terrorist watch list to own guns. Manan agrees with the 92% of Americans who favor universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of these dangerous individuals.”

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